Event Detail

Mon Feb 9, 2015
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Chip Sebens (University of Michigan)
Killer Collapse: Empirically Probing the Philosophically Unsatisfactory Region of GRW

GRW theory offers precise laws to describe collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics. It is well-understood why the rate at which these collapses occur cannot be too high: the theory makes testable and incorrect predictions. Lower bounds on the rate of collapse have been more controversial since GRW begins to take on a many-worlds character. When the rate is very small, parallel worlds have time to form after quantum measurements and one should be initially uncertain which world one is in. The collapse of the wave function then acts as a kind of natural disaster, destroying entire quantum worlds along with their occupants. Our continued survival provides empirical evidence against these variants of GRW and thereby a way of measuring how often collapse events occur.